Just Reflecting

“Just Reflecting” features a variety of blogs and bloggers discussing various social justice topics that we encounter in our daily lives, whether it be within our communities or own families.


A Reflection by Associate Patricia Herrick, OPA

How many times have you heard these old expressions: Every cloud has a silver lining. When God shuts one door, he opens a window. There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. I am thankful for my struggle because without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon my strength?

What motivates you to find the good in a bad situation? What can we gain from an examination of the pandemic we are now experiencing?

I am amazed by how not being able to attend Mass has contributed to a deeper relationship with my God.

First, I have found myself with plenty of time to pray, no excuses.

I have also found myself with absolutely no distractions while listening to the world of God via YouTube. It has increased my listening ability drastically. I almost feel as if the priest (or God) is speaking directly to me.

I find myself trying new things, listening to biographies of saints, finding new ways to pray, reading the oppeace.org website, exploring Christian blogs, etc. One link leads to another, putting me on a more expansive and exciting fact-finding spiritual journey.

Being sequestered in my home has been the ultimate challenge. There’s only myself, my husband and our youngest daughter. We are finding it hard to avoid each other’s nerve endings, yet good things have resulted.

We have become involved in good family activities — reading, watching movies, playing cards, working puzzles, watching church services and praying more together than ever before. The time that we are spending together is enriched and has more depth and meaning. It is helping us expand and deepen our relationships with each other.

I am flabbergasted by the response of the common person to this global crisis.

I see and hear about people who are feverishly sewing masks, gowns, or caps for medical personnel. I am amazed at the medical personnel who have the courage to expose themselves and their families to the virus so that others may benefit. I am impressed by all the stories that I am hearing about how communities are coming together to provide food for the poor, the unemployed, and the homeless.

I’m astounded at the number of businesses who have provided supplies for masks and gowns; schools that are staying in touch with their students; and magazines that are offering free entrance to websites so parents can find activities for keeping their children busy and engaged. It’s truly fulfilling to witness the number of people who have stopped to ask themselves the question, “What can I do to help?”

The coronavirus is frightening and devastating. When we look back on this time period 10 years from now, we will not only recall the negative aspects of a deadly disease and the number of people who succumbed to the illness. We will also recall all the good that came from the global and individual effort to sustain ourselves during the crisis.

Posted in Just Reflecting, News

A Reflection on Lockdown

Reading: John 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Reflection by Anita Davidson, OPA

How familiar does this scene feel to us right now?!  “The doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear…”  And then, “…a week later his disciples were again inside…the doors were locked…” I’ve lost track of how many days of sheltering in place we’ve completed now, but it seems like a very long time.  I hope that it isn’t just fear that’s keeping us inside as it was for the disciples.  I hope that there is also a large portion of love, care and compassion for each other that is holding us within the safety of our homes.  We who are healthy (and I pray you all are) are staying home to protect not just ourselves but most especially those who are most vulnerable among us – the elderly, the sick, those whose immune systems are compromised. Our sheltering in place is the most powerful communal act of love that the world has seen, certainly in my lifetime and perhaps in recorded history. And that alone is a Lent and Easter miracle that none of us could ever have imagined or asked for!

For the disciples, Jesus showed up in spite of the lockdown and wished them peace.  And breathed the Holy Spirit into them.  What a miracle!  We hope that if we’d been there, we’d have received that gift with open hearts and much joy.  It seems, though, that the disciples didn’t respond that way.  After all, a week later they were still frozen in fear behind locked doors!  Is it any wonder that Thomas didn’t believe what they said about Jesus’ visit?  They were lousy witnesses!  It wasn’t Jesus that Thomas didn’t believe in. Thomas doubted those fearful, stuck disciples who didn’t seem the least bit transformed by Jesus’ arrival. And it was only Thomas who responded to Jesus’ second visit with the most powerful and heartfelt profession of faith: “My Lord and my God!” Yes, Thomas believed because he had seen, but the other disciples had seen, too, and it wasn’t enough to move them beyond their fear into the work for which Jesus had tried to prepare them for three years. Thomas didn’t just see their beloved rabbi whom they thought dead and now had come to life. He saw the deeper reality of Jesus, the Christ. And spoke it out loud.  I’ve long thought that poor Thomas has gotten a bad rap for all these thousands of years being called “Doubting.”

So here we are, in 2020, on lockdown just as were the disciples. Are we able to see through and beyond our fear and impatience to the greater Divine Reality in whose presence we are basking, even now? If we aren’t, how can we open our eyes and our hearts and move from doubt to faith?  If we are able, are we allowing ourselves to be transformed by it? Are we credible and persuasive witnesses who can help others to believe even when they aren’t able to see?  Can people believe by our lives that they are forgiven, and loved, and filled with God’s Spirit?  It might seem a bit challenging to respond to the call to be witnesses when we are quarantined. However, our presence goes well beyond the physical.  Think about what you choose to post on Facebook or Instagram; what kind of emails and text messages you send on to others; the content of your conversations in phone or video calls.  Consider how you are praying in these times.  Each of our actions and attitudes have ripple effects we’ll never know about, but they are part of the legacy we leave in our wake.

This very strange and surreal time that we’re living in feels quite a bit like the world of Jesus’ disciples after his death and resurrection. Let’s learn from Thomas and open our eyes and see and recognize Jesus’ presence with us in the midst of it all. Let’s have the courage to be open to the transformation that is surely being offered and let’s speak it out loud however we can to encourage one another and ourselves as we move through our fears and into a brand new future filled with hope.

Posted in Just Reflecting

Finding Solace At the Well

Blog by Sr. Ceal Warner, OP

The scene is a mountain in Samaria, a well, and a woman fetching water.  You know the one?  Sure you do.  She’s rather taken aback that a Jewish man is asking her for a drink.

The part of the conversation I’ve been reflecting during these days of lockdown is the part where she asks Jesus about living waters.  His responses shifts her to comment  on the correct place to worship, “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain though you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

I find Jesus’ response to this is comforting during this season of closed churches. Especially, these holy days. Jesus says, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship God neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  The hour is coming – indeed it is already here – when true worshippers will worship (God) in spirit and truth; that is the kind of worshipper (God) seeks.  God is spirit and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.”

It seems to me that Jesus is saying that the place of worship does not need to be inside  brick buildings, that it needs to be in that inner space of our human bodies.  Yet, those brick spaces offers us the gifts of Eucharist and community.  This pandemic time is depriving us of these gifts.  Or, is it?

These words of Jesus are pure gift to us in our current time.  Actually, at any time.  As we reflect on his words, we find solace in that we are God’s temples of flesh.  We are the church.  We are the true worshipers who worship in spirit and truth.  Jesus’ words are not empty words.  We can trust that as we worship in spirit and truth that we will be nourished – pressed down and overflowing!  We shall not find ourselves lacking in God’s abundant grace and nourishment.

Normally, this grace would send us out to communities.  Social distancing has gotten in our way, for the most part.  I hope that you are finding creative ways to reach out.  If not, it is enough to relax in the abundance of God’s goodness – pressed down and overflowing!  It’s a kind of worship that God seeks.

Posted in Just Reflecting, News

Just Reflecting

I must say that my heart fell when I read the news from my parish website, “The Bishops of Ohio have suspended all public masses…no services will be observed during Holy Week or Easter.” Knowing that this message was heard by just about every diocese and archdiocese across the United States, and perhaps the whole world, did not bring me comfort.

A cradle Catholic, I can barely recall a time when I have not participated in Lent and the Triduum. Is this what early Christians felt when their rights to attend church services and receive the Eucharist were denied? Did they ask, what am I going to do? How will I live without practicing my faith?

This catastrophe we are facing is not exactly what the early Christians experienced, but I imagine the feelings it evokes are similar.  I have rarely been absent from Sunday services and when I have been unable to attend Mass I feel as if something spiritual and physical is missing.  Attending Mass makes me feel the real presence of God in my life.  It reminds me that I am human and God will always love and forgive me.

In Jeremiah (17:7-8) we are told, “blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches it roots to the stream.  It fears not the heat when it comes…in the years of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”

Jeremiah’s words remind me that during this world-wide pandemic, I must remember to trust in the Lord, place my hope in the Lord to deliver us safely from this devastating illness. I must pray and continue on my journey through Lent and the Triduum, knowing that I am not alone. I will be traveling with the hearts of my fellow Christians, not despairing but looking forward to God’s help.

-Patricia Herrick, OPA

For online resources prepared by the Dominican Sisters of Peace to commemorate the Lenten season, click here

Posted in Just Reflecting, News

I have come that you may have LIFE; and have it in abundance

“The call to holiness requires a “firm and passionate” defense of the innocent unborn. Equally sacred are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and the elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”
Pope Francis in Gaudete et Exsultate

Blog by Sr. Mary Ellen Bennett, OP

For me, pro-life means far more than anti-abortion.  I’d like to see pro-life efforts extended to protest the Death Penalty.  I’d like to see support for mothers who deliver babies at term, then keep weekly vigils for them, “The Disappeared” of Central and South America.

Could we re-direct some pro-life efforts to help children wounded by war, gun violence, drive-by shootings, and terrorist attacks?

Malnourished mothers whose empty breasts are unable to feed their babies, people everywhere who are unable to provide adequate nourishment for their families because of unemployment, poverty, drought, flooding, crop failure, and other loss of agricultural land caused by climate change, need our help.

Did you see the picture of the father with his little daughter, drowned in a river while trying to cross into the U.S.?  Their reality, and that of all immigrants, especially at the U.S. southern border is death-dealing, certainly a pro-life issue.

There is life, and there is life. . . or is there?  Where are the advocates for our fellow human beings in these wretched situations?  Are they organized?

True respect for life, all life, true pro-life supporters, would advocate against all of these wretched conditions, and more.

A credible pro-life stance would not be pro-birth only; pro some life, not all, but pro-life for all the members of our one human family; the family of God.”

In this holy season remember that “God became one of us—all of us.”

Posted in Just Reflecting